Our FEDS trainees – 15 ambitious young people receiving experience in distribution, exhibition and international sales – are moving ahead with their careers. Here, Coujoe Alleyne, working at 20th Century Fox during the scheme, gives his report on his festival experience at Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Personally, I have never been to a film festival before so Edinburgh International Film Festival was my first experience. On the first day, after arriving, I and some of my fellow FEDS trainees went to see our first film of the festival, Every Secret Thing. I felt that the film had a similar tone and story line to the film Prisoners. I thoroughly enjoyed that film and although Every Secret Thing was not as compelling overall, I felt the performances, especially from the lead actress (who also personally introduced the screening) were great. Later that day, some of us attended the networking drinks and then we all went on to attend the Ceilidh. It was a fun (and exhausting) cultural experience that I would be more than happy to do again!
The next day, the first film that we went to see was the David Gordon Green-directed Manglehorn. It stars Al Pacino as the title character as we follow his life. I personally found the film a little slow but the film was held together by a fantastic performance from Al Pacino. This was my first industry screening and I thought it was quite a surreal experience to simply show my EIFF pass and be let into a cinema screen! The next film I saw that day was my favourite from the festival, Inside Out. The festival theatre was packed with people (a lot of them children) with ice cream and balloons being handed out liberally. This created a nice atmosphere for children and adults alike. As it was the UK premiere of the film and there was a short introduction from the co-director, Ronnie del Carmen. As for the film itself, I very much enjoyed it and thought it was a worthy entry into Pixars long running catalogue of iconic and interesting films. After another round of networking drinks at the Traverse Theatre, all us FEDS trainees, Hatice and Corinne and two special guests had dinner together and discussed our experiences of the festival.
On the following full day, we began it by attending the setting the scene session of the Distribution Re-wired Conference. It was very interesting to find out more about alternative methods of distribution and how they work and the effect they have on the film industry.One representative on the panel was from Euro VOD, which is a video on demand service that is spread across multiple European countries. Their main aim is to give films a longer shelf life beyond theatrical release. They have embraced the internet and given power to the rights holders about how their content is distributed.
Another representative was from the BFI to talk about BFI Player. As part of their plans to diversify, the BFI have created their own video on demand player to give their audience easier access to their catalogue of films. Their aim is to give people who cannot easily get to an independent cinema a better chance to see more arthouse and alternative films. They are also aiming to provide a number of BFI archive films on BFI player to better reach their intended audience.
More 2 Screen is another distribution company that was present on the panel and they specialise in event cinema. They explained that there aim was to bring the increasingly popular medium of event cinema to a larger audience. One part of interest to me was that some event cinema content is broadcast live via satellite. I felt that this helps the audience to better engage and enjoy the content with the knowledge that they are experiencing the event at the same time as the live audience at the event.
Also on the panel there was a representative from the crowd-sourcing business Indiegogo. Their key aim was to provide funding for the distribution of independent and niche films. They also talked about their partnership with video hosting site Vimeo. Indiegogo and Vimeo have a deal in place in which films that have a large amount of funder’s have their funding matched by Vimeo. In addition to this, they show their film on Vimeo’s platform, in return for VOD exclusivity for a pre-determined length of time.
During the panel there was a short debate about the idea of the introduction of the European digital single market. At its most basic level, with a European digital single market, more films can be accessed by a greater audience across Europe. It can remove barriers to e-commerce and put a stop to geo-blocking,where certain content can only be viewed in certain countries. The argument against this however is that a lot of European films rely on the pre-sale of distribution rights in individual territories. This accounts for a major portion of their funding. Although it was interesting to hear about different businesses that operate in film distribution, I would have liked there to be more discussion about the future of distribution in the UK and across the world.
We then went to go and see the film Chuck Norris Vs. Communism. This film was about film censorship in 1980’s Romania and the people who worked to get around it. This was a very well made and uplifting film that coincidentally has strong links to film distribution in the past. Overall I had a great experience at EIFF and I would love to go again next year!